In a state known for its prowess in the lobster industry, it has to mean something special when you're dubbed "Maine's Lobster Capital." For Rockland, it makes sense. From the early days where the sea provided most residents their living, especially lobstering, to the annual Maine Lobster Festival of modern day, the crustacean has played a big role in Rockland's history.
The largest town in Knox County, over 7,600 people live in Rockland according to the 2000 Census, although that number can more than double in summer months when part-time residents and visitors descend upon their summertime Rockland Maine property vacation home.
Settled in 1769, Rockland was originally part of nearby Thomaston. It wasn't until 1848 until it became a separate town, then named East Thomaston and was officially chartered as a town in 1854. While the town was built as a fishing community, changing times have forced a move in the economy toward more of a service center town and have seen steady increases in tourism. The tourism has also caused the downtown to reinvent itself into one of small shops, restaurants and galleries.
While Rockland's tourism is obviously built on its abundant natural resources and the many beautiful Rockland Maine homes for sale, there are plenty of other things to do around town.
First and foremost is The Farnsworth Art Museum, offering a nationally recognized collection of American art. Such names in 18th- and 19th-century American art history as Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sully, Thomas Eakins, Eastman Johnson, Fitz Hugh Lane, Frank Benson, Childe Hassam, and Maurice Prendergast are represented in the museum's permanent collection entitled "Maine in America."
The museum also houses the nation's second-largest collection of works by premier 20th-century sculptor Louise Nevelson and has opened four new galleries to showcase contemporary art. Its Wyeth Center exclusively features works of Andrew, N.C. and Jamie Wyeth — often dubbed "America's first family of art."
During peak season, the museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with reduced winter hours. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students and free for anyone under the age of 17.
For those who visit Rockland to see some of the 14 local lighthouses, a must-see stop is the Maine Lighthouse Museum, home to the largest collection of lighthouse lenses, lighthouse artifacts and Coast Guard memorabilia in the United States. Admission to the museum is $5 with varied hours year-round.
Spouses who may have been dragged to Rockland by their significant other to see the birthplace of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay can take refuge in the fact that the Rockland Golf Club is a just a mile from downtown.
Timing a visit to Rockland is important since two of Maine's biggest festivals, The Maine Lobster Festival and North Atlantic Jazz Festival both take place in the summer.
The Maine Lobster Festival, held the first week of August, is similar to many of Maine's traditional county fairs minus the livestock. The festival has also boasted a more famous and more diverse national entertainment schedule than any fair can claim. But, there is plenty of food (especially lobster) and a carnival to make sure every family member enjoys themselves.
The North Atlantic Blues Festival features a much more subdued atmosphere during the day, welcoming some of the countries top jazz and blues musicians. At night, 15 different venues in town offer additional music, free with admission to the festival.
Along with longtime residents and tourists, you'll find students of two of the most interesting schools in Maine calling the Rockland ocean front their home. The Penobscot School is a unique language-learning environment welcoming mainly adults from around the world. The one hitch? You must be invited to attend. The Apprenticeshop, on the other hand, will take anyone, provided you have a love of boatbuilding. Considered one of the oldest and finest traditional boat building schools in the country, it is possible to commission students to create a one-of-a-kind wooden boat, provided you can afford it, and then launch it from their Rockland ocean front location.
For those who enjoy the outdoors in winter, Rockland has plenty to offer. Cross-country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing and tubing are just minutes away at The Camden Snow Bowl ski area where the International Toboggan races are hosted in February each year. Ice fishing, cross country skiing, ice-skating and ice sailing are also easily accessible in the region.
The most popular way to arrive in Rockland is by car as many highways serve the Rockland ocean front community. The most popular, U.S. Route 1 runs through the center of the town.
Knox Country Regional Airport, owned by the town of Rockland until the late 1960s, offers commercial flights from US Airways Express to Bangor, Bar Harbor and Boston along with a bevy of charter planes, although the airport is mainly used to get residents and tourists to the many nearby islands in Penobscot Bay off the coast of Rockland's ocean front. Those who fear the friendly skies can also catch one of many ferries to the nearby islands.
For the person who hates the cookie cutter residential developments being created in the 21st century, Rockland can be seen as something of an oasis. As a state, Maine has a higher percentage (35%) of the housing stock that was built prior to 1940 than any other state. According to 2000 Census information, 58% of Rockland's homes were constructed before 1940, or over 2,200 units. Considering that most of the new development over the last 15 years has come in the form of mobile homes, Rockland's percentage of true stick-built homes from before 1940 is much higher.
And while housing prices increased 51% from 1995 to 2002 in Rockland, it is still the most affordable town in the county to purchase a house. The average price of a home in Rockland in 2002 was $172,273, up from $84,673 in 1995, but still low compared to the average prices of homes in sister towns Camden, Owl's Head and Rockport, where the average home in 2002 was well over $400,000. Of course, if you were looking to own a piece of Rockland ocean front property, the price might just get a bit higher!